Tag Archive: English Pale Ale

Art Brew: Pale (England: English Pale Ale: 3.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy dark apricot towards brown. Thin off white head.

Nose: Malt chocolate and toffee. Fresh pineapple. Dried apricot. Fruit sugars. Peach. Light milk. Pumpkin.

Body: Moderately bitter. Moderately earthy. Light peach. Prickly hop mouthfeel. Toffee backbone. Soft lemon sherbet. Pumpkin. Slight peach syrup. Soft pineapple.

Finish: Solid earthy bitterness. Malt toffee. Soft pineapple air. Good hop character. Soft lemon cake. Pumpkin. Blueberry.

Conclusion: This is a nice mix of things. The initial impression was a fairly earthy hopped English Pale Ale/ Bitter kind of thing. It was solidly earthy with good bitterness and a solid toffee malt backbone. Nothing fancy, but well done and the bitter, earthy British beer is a take oft overlooked these days.

Over time it really rounds out though. The first tell is a very soft pineapple note that freshens up the aroma, and then the body. The soft peach and apricot sweet notes come out and slowly pushes the earthiness into the background – though it still comes back for a solid kick in the finish.

It isn’t a super shiny beer, but it works at giving a solid kick up front as it leans heavily into the traditional British bitter style, then soothes into a gentle American pale hopped style that lets you relax with the rest of the beer. At a super sessionable 3.2% abv the earthier front and gentler back work very well indeed. It doesn’t get heavy, but doesn’t get dull, and that is a hard balance to get.

Very solid, calls to the old but uses the new. It isn’t going to turn up in anyone’s top 50 true, but … that isn’t the point of it. Let’s just say that this is not my first bottle of it – it brings you back and is enjoyable pretty much any time. It has a very well deserved place in the drinking range because of that.

Background: Ahh, Art Brew. Their beers are old friends of this blog, and I try to drop back to them every now and then. In this case to a session abv Pale Ale. Fairly simple name, and fairly simple concept. I felt like trying a beer that would hopefully concentrate on just being a good beer, rather than any flashy conceits or ingredients. Let’s see how that goes. Another one from Independent Spirit. I put on Svalbard’s bloody awesome It’s Hard To Have Hope while drinking. Seriously metal fans – great crunchy metal and socially relevant lyrics – you want to check this one out.


Brewdog: Indie Pale Ale (Scotland: English Pale Ale: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold. Clear. Large mounded bubbled head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Noble hop style hop oils. Light greenery note. Vanilla toffee.

Body: Hard fruit sweets. Creamy hop oils and light bitterness. More hop oils. Clean lager feel. Cardboard. Light chalk. Soft lemon.

Finish: Hop oils and light bitterness. Flour. Clean lager like feel.

Conclusion: What sort of beer is this supposed to be? Indie Pale Ale suggest an IPA – which this sure as fuck is not. It could also be an EPA/APA I guess, which this could be called if you were feeling kind. But, basically, it feels like a lager – or maybe a low bitterness Kölsch if that makes sense – but not as good.

Early on there is some promise – creamy and hard fruit sweet notes, but they soon vanish. You are left instead with a substandard lager mouthfeel and some oily hop character and … that’s it. This is, well, dull. I’ve had shitter Brewdog beers, but they tended to at least be adventurous and experimental. This is just dull and empty. It is almost a slightly chalky mass market lager masquerading as an *PA. I mean, come on, it is some sort of wildcard-PA – that is the style that is right in the centre of Brewdog’s beer set and this is still complete tug.

There is a touch of vanilla, but the chalky touch makes it so you can’t really enjoy this as a lager. In the first few moments it has flavour but soon becomes watery and empty. The oily hop character, while it does have a nice texture touch, is the only thing this beer has going for it.

Tripe. Utter tripe. Avoid.

Background; Ok, As indicated in the main notes I am kind of guessing when I list this as English Pale Ale. I put that as “shit” turns out not to be an accepted style category. Who would have thought? Ratebeer lists it as Session IPA. From the name I would guess IPA but it does not explicitly state that so I can’t use my usual “Go with what they call it” definition. So, kind of close to English Pale Ale I guess. If you squint and presume the brewer didn’t know how to brew. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers – but as this review probably shows I try not to let that alter my tasting notes. This is one of Brewdog’s new core beers and was grabbed directly from their online shop. This was drunk while listening to the Paprika OST – such an awesome surreal anime move and such good music.

Gweilo: Pale Ale (Hong Kong: English Pale Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Clear. Large amounts of carbonation and massive bubbled white head.

Nose: Grapes. Apricot. Crisp hop character. Vanilla custard. Light lemon. Orange jelly. Light strawberry and slight dry spice.

Body: Peppery bitterness. Creamy backing body early on. A dry bready character later on. Light grapes. Vanilla yogurt.

Finish: Peppery. Brown bread. Good hop bitterness. Grapes.

Conclusion: With my recent, hugely impressed encounters with Hong Kong beer, especially in the Kowloon Taproom, I was looking forwards to break this one open – and boy, first impressions yanked me right in.

Huge solid head over a clear body made this impressive on the eye. The aroma is similarly fantastic – crisp hops, subtle fruit notes and soft vanilla variants for sweetness. Subtle and layered, I was anticipating that first sip.

You already know where this is going right? We have been down this path before. The body is …ok .. that dry, bready style that is so common of pale ales – normally I associated with the American takes, while this is generally listed as an English pale, but same point applies – a bit more grounded than the American style I guess – more peppery with good bitterness. At this point the difference between a slightly hoppier pale ale and a so called session IPA becomes even more blurred as they seem to have a lot of similar characteristics here. The main difference here seems to be that it has better body and mouthfeel than most session IPAs of similar abv.

It has vanilla yogurt flavour and thickness at times- good bitterness as mentioned, but nearly all that fruit subtext of the aroma is lost. It feels like a solid but dull base – the yogurt notes feel like they flatten the rest of the beer rather than enhance it. Promises a lot more than it gives and falls into the same trap as a lot of APAs I’ve seen (yes, EPA, I know, point still holds) in that it is overly dry and has not enough range. It has a lot of promise from the good mouthfeel for the abv but does too little with it. A weak end to what was an awesome beer trip.

Background: I saw this in a mini supermarket thing while I was looking for Tim Ho Wan Restaurant (Call me a Yorkshire stereotype if you want, but when I heard it was the worlds cheapest Michelin star restaurants I said – “Right, I’m trying that”). Their IPA was listed as part of ratebeer’s top 50 beers of Hong Kong, but I had hit IPAs pretty hard this trip, so decided to go with the pale ale instead. Drunk after getting back to the UK, this is the only beer I brought back, so the final beer of the trip. This was drunk while listening to some Testament – I had seen they were touring soon so was using youtube to check out what they sounded like.

The Wild Beer Co: Fresh (NZ version) (England: English Pale Ale: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Slightly hazy, bruised lemon rind to apricot flesh. Small white dust of ahead. Low carbonation.

Nose: Hop oils. Squeezed lemon. Meringue. Apricot and cream. Chewed mint leaves.

Body: Sharp lemon. Peppermint. Greenery – nettles. Good bitterness. Light dry texture. Dried apricot.  Can by a tad weisseesque at times with a wheat style to the flavour – more Kristal than Hefe though.

Finish: Powerful bitterness, greenery and hop oils. Walnut cake. Lemon. Bitterness grows quickly. Honey.

Conclusion:  Fresh is a bit of an understatement her. A huge lemon zing, utterly tingling hop and oils, and good bitterness all over a very crisp texture. It’s not a lambic kick fresh obviously, but for a more conventional beer that’s pretty impressive.

I would say it’s a beer designed as a thirst quencher with a texture that is slightly lager like to the body, however there is a thirst inducer element with the dry bitterness to the finish.  Combined it works well, if dangerous for your drinking habits.

The flavours remind me of a hopped up version of summer lightning on a much crisper body. In fact the texture could be one of the splitting points on if people like this beer or not.  The texture of the body does it’s job well by fading into the background. Without any obvious slickness or thickness it makes the flavours centre stage rather than the texture, which ties nicely to the fresh nature. However it gives little separation between the drinker and the lemon and dried apricot flavours. While I like this style I do know a few people who finds that this causes beer to be overly sharp and off-putting. Not a flaw in my mind, but I will let you make up your own.

I think the beer does what it intends very well and drenches the tongue in citrus flavours as a reward for sipping it.  While I would say I normally do prefer beers with thicker textures, we already have beers that have taken that route, and this is instead a beer that gives a sharp shock of flavour and I enjoy it for that.

Not bad at all for an opener from a new brewery.

Conclusion: The Wild Beer co. I’ve been looking forwards to trying their beers since I first heard about them.  From what I have heard the brewery started as two members who split off from Bristol Beer Factory (amicably I think) as they wanted to do more experimental beers. This was pretty much their first beer out, hitting the stands just under a month ago. I think they have a total of seven beers out already so I need to get drinking quicker if I am going to keep up with them. This one was picked up from Corks of Cotham.  I will say it is very cool to have such an experimental brewery in our vicinity. Bristol has a heap of quality traditional style brewers, and people like Arbor and BBF who do a mix of traditional and new, so this new addition with some really out there beers should add brilliantly to the Bristol beer scene. This beer has two different versions planned, NZ hop version and USA hope version, so to keep using the freshest hops they can (hence the name) this is the NZ version.

Kiuchi: Hitachino Nest: Pale Ale (Japan: English Pale Ale: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Light amber brown. Moderate loose bubbled toffee coloured head

Nose: Fruitcake. Digestive biscuits and malt. Vanilla fudge and red cherries.

Body: Light to moderate bitterness. Pineapple. Malt chocolate drinks. Red cherries and raisins. Fudge sweetness. White grapes.

Finish: Raisins and red cherries. Light to moderate hop bitterness. Slight dry feel and digestives. Grapes.

Conclusion: What is it about Hitachino Nest? Their big beers like XH are good but underwhelming compared to the close competition. However their understated, more main line beers such as amber ale and now this equally modestly named Pale Ale are bloody good beers. Both pack very high flavour to comparatively restrained abvs.

Much more malt dominated than I expected with a good mix of fruitcake, cherries and raisins, against a restrained use of fresher grape and pineapple flavours.  The bitterness is also restrained. It is definitely present but not excessive. Which all together gives a very satisfying and just slightly dry beer. That last bit is the killer element, some pale ales can seem far too attenuated. This does just enough to give a slight thirst inducing dryness to encourage further drinking.

While it is not a big beer I think it deserves respect as a very good beer. It is that oft overlooked more everyday beer, not quite sessionable due to the abv, but definitely has the flavour for it, bringing in great drinkablily and good flavour.

A very good general drinking beer, bringing character to an area that can be very dull. The term good general drinking beer can sound like a backhanded complement or nigh on an insult, but it is not intended as such. It s a beer worth keeping in good stock of, to enjoy at any time.

Background: Picked up from Brewdog’s guest beer section as part of my continuing exploration of the craft beer scene.  Looking at ratebeer I noticed an odd comment about the beer style, English Pale Ales.  In the UK pale ale and bitter are often used interchangeably. For example Timothy Taylor’s landlord is oft referred to as both, with pale ale usually referring to the bottled version. Therefore apparently the style English Pale Ale, is pretty much a foreign creation based on those bottled beers. Huh. You learn something new every day.

Leadmill Brewery Agent Orange (England: English Pale Ale: 4.9%ABV)

Visual: Still apple juice colour with absolutely no head.

Nose: Very light citrus and caramel –not much is evident.

Body: Warming and wood. A sweet harshness and a bitter back. Somewhat like the orange part of chocolate orange.

Finish: Fruity, raspberry. Orange crème centres. Slight burnt cinders and a real bitter burnt end. Vanilla and wheat.

Conclusion: Very little to say about this one. The tastes I have picked out seem to come and go and are not especially evident. The bitter back is prevalent but not much else.

I can’t recommend this one except in times of extreme need, such as when faced with Fosters as an alternative.

(NOTE: A quick sample of this the next day game more evident flavour as the room temperature was higher. Still not fantastic but much better than the first sampling – this is definitely a beer than needs warmth. For balance I have added Dylan Ransoms beer tasting notes from that time.)


Visual: Pale orange, clear with no head or hint of fizz.

Nose: Barley sugar, sweet.

Body: Fresh crisp and cool. Feels smooth with sweet but mellow taste.

Finish: Medium bitter aftertaste. Slightly sharp. No Tang.

Conclusion: Would make a food table beer with a meal.

Thanks to Dylan for his helpful contribution

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